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Saving our blushes.

Byline: By SIMON NEWSAM Western Mail

More information on the mobile generation and how we use our phones has come to light. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how data was taking over from talk as the biggest growth area for mobiles.

This was being driven by M-Agers - kids between 10 and 14 years old who not only used their mobiles more than their elders but also left them in the shade when it came to downloads, MMS messaging and games.

However, precisely where that left the aforementioned adult mobile users wasn't clear.

More research, however, has revealed just what you grown-ups get up to with your handset ... you may blush.

Good old-fashioned voice calls are still the most widely used mobile function across all age groups - no surprises or red faces there - but text messaging (SMS) is now very close behind.

And this is where you get the first chance to blush. It is the devil in the detail that makes the 2.1 billion text messages sent each month from mobiles in the UK such a rich source of scandal.

Well over a third of adults admit to sending 'deeply personal' messages.

Top of the list was flirting by text, in which 41% of us have indulged ... sorry that's 41% of you. I suppose it is that much easier when you don't have to look the flirtee in the eye.

A passionate 31% have gone further and sent a full love letter by text to the object of their desires.

They obviously thought it was a romantic thing to do.

But ask yourself which you'd prefer to receive; a Shakespearean sonnet ... 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? etc, etc' ... or its 21st century equivalent ... 'G/f, ilu. Imnsho ur gr8. I musm. G2r. Cul8r - kotc'. ['Girlfriend, I love you. In my not so humble opinion you are great. I miss you so much. Got to run. See you later - kiss on the cheek.']

No contest, I suspect.

Surprisingly it is the male of the species that is hottest here - 36% of us compared to a bashful 27% of females who have proclaimed their love by text.

At this point, I ought to point out the danger in letting your passion go to your fingers ... 38% of mobile users have also read a partner's or friend's text messages.

When a similar text tendencies were revealed in Italy they caused public consternation and led to a spate of suspicious spouses snooping into their partner's mobile messages.

The rest of the Italian media soon joined in, offering advice such as 'How to cheat with your mobile' and 'Five Top Tips for Safe Texting'.

The story is the same around the world.

A survey of private investigators and lawyers in strait-laced Singapore revealed that 90% of extramarital affairs are now discovered through cell phone records.

It is safe to conclude that suspicious mobile behaviour is the 21st century equivalent of lipstick on your collar or a whiff of the 'wrong' perfume.

Of course, just as texting is used to flirt, pick-up and engage with the apple of your eye, so too it is used to reject them.

A third of adults with mobiles admit to having a lovers' tiff by text. Presumably you do it all in capital letters.

And as many as 10% admit they have been dumped by gutless partners via an SMS message, which speaks volumes about the medium.

We use texting to communicate silently - usually from quite a long way away - and without having to look at the people we're communicating with.

Which can have unfortunate consequences as the 38% who admit to sending text messages to the wrong person will vouch for.

It really is a medium where the spineless can come out of their shells. And not just for a romantic interlude.

There are few barriers to texting.

We've all read about workers being sacked or made redundant by text but 2% of adults claim they have turned the tables on their employer and resigned by SMS.

And beyond the world of work 13% of adults claim they have even been stalked by text. Presumably SMS stalkers are either too lazy to get off their backsides and follow you or too timid.

Last month Hungarian scientists suggested that carrying a mobile phone can reduce a man's sperm count by as much as 30% and affect the mobility of the surviving sperm.

So carrying it in a trendy rubber holster on you hip may be just too close for comfort.

It may not be long before texting your girlfriend is all you are good for.: My word, it's a world speed record for Yeo:It's not an Olympic event - yet - but last month Kimberley Yeo, from Singapore, set a new SMS world speed record. Kimberley, 23, entered 26 words in just 43.24 seconds to beat 125 competitors and smash the previous record set by Brit James Trustler by nearly 24 seconds.

The text read, 'The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are he most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.'

All this without the aid of predictive text. The avid SMS user, who sends an average of 1,500 texts a month, won $17,500 and a top-of-the-range Nokia.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 14, 2004
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